Monthly Archives: July 2015

Faffers, Laxers and Flexers.

Faffers vacillate; they mess around with stuff a lot.

Laxers are limp; they are laid back mostly, way too negligent.

Flexers loosen up a lot; they bask in the comfort of pleasure.

A Faffer isn’t likely to spur you to meaningful action on anything. Your interactions with him will most likely be typified by how things aren’t to be taken too seriously.

A Laxer isn’t likely to challenge you as well. He’ll most likely make you see why you should ‘chill’ more often. He’d be cool with living a very basic life devoid of much grit as well.

A Flexer will have you believe life is blimey and to be enjoyed at ‘every given opportunity’. Most likely, he won’t be one to instill in you the importance of hard or smart work.

Laziness, slackness and indulgence aren’t desirable traits by any standard. The age that we’re in doesn’t give room for relevance or respect to anyone who is well noted for being a Faffer, a Laxer or an out-and-out Flexer.

Take time to joke but not so much to faff around consistently.

Sometimes slow down but not to the point of retardation.

Enjoy yourself but not to the extent that pleasure becomes a lifestyle.

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Beyond The Surface

While I was growing up, we had a room we referred to as the ironing room in our house. Yes, that was where the ironing table was, and that was where we ironed our clothes, but that wasn’t all there was to the room. It was also a dressing room, and for this cause, a good number of our clothes were in this room (us children). The clothes were scattered everywhere; in all the layers of the wardrobes, and on the mattress. Not neatly folded nor stacked, but mostly rumpled.

There were times Mom charged us to make the whole house presentable before she got back from an outing, so to hasten the work, we’d fold a few clothes, arrange ’em neatly in the first two layers of the wardrobe, hang a number of them (just 5 pairs maybe) in the compartment designed for that purpose, and then roll up all the other clothes to the bottom layer; all clothes on the bed and elsewhere, then cover the mass of them with a bedsheet… Then the room was done, with wardrobes closed, bed laid, and floor sparkling so it would appear clean and orderly. But who were we deceiving? We knew deep within that we did next to nothing.

Beyond the surface of the skin, there’s an unsightly network of veins and arteries.

Beyond the surface of an electrical conduit, there’s a not-so-beautiful fabric of multicolored wires.

Beyond the surface of a shiny computer or handheld device, there’s a mesh of miscellaneous semiconductor devices that combined together wouldn’t give pleasure to the eyes.

Beyond the surface everyone presents, there’s a story, then some more. There’s Goodness, then distastefulness. There are great ideas, then idiotic ones. There’s orderliness, then chaos.

There are two things I think one needs to do for oneself. The first is to ensure one has real substance beyond the mask that the outer man is.

The second is to pay attention to:

What people don’t show
What people don’t say
What people don’t do.

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Degeneration, Algae Infested Gutters and Basic Differences

The key turned in the lock and Dad stepped in, his commanding presence filling the doorway. As he had been doing over the past months, he had caught us red-handed yet again. Bats in hand, we looked up, waiting for the tongue lashing (my brother and I), then he said: “I never thought you people could have degenerated to this level.” His words hit me. Water welled up in my eyes. Denegerated? Just ‘cos we played table tennis on the dining table?

Okay, I think the dining table was taking it too far, but you have to understand there wasn’t any other table in sight. I knew ‘degenerated’ had to be a strong word, and I checked it up, and lo and behold, it implied we had descended to an unimaginable depth. My heart sank!

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I like to think I’m of a fairly sturdy build, though you’d be deceived to think I’ve ever been some sort of athlete. I didn’t grow up with a mind that sought to play soccer or throw the discuss or javelin, neither did I jump hoops or play basketball or some other random sport. Infact, the few times we tried to play smart and play monkey-post soccer with the more exposed kids along the street (my brother and I), the rumbling sound of my Dad’s Beetle (Volkswagen) and its tumbling down the rocky street leading to the house we lived back then drove us in, back to the books. That house with algae infested gutters. That house we (tenants) had to take turns in washing said gutters. That house that we lived in so long that I became old enough to become an experienced gutter washer before we finally moved to our own personal house. Don’t get me started please.

Where was I? Yes… Now that I’m much older, I can’t blame Dad much for appearing to be so unreceptive to the idea of his children engaging in anything not having a solid intellectual implication. Afterall, he could only raise his children how he knew best since there’s no special school for training on parenthood. In actual fact, I’m always grateful for how he instilled a reading culture in us and made us learn the rudiments of memorization early in life, because till date, I manage to enchant people I meet with comprehensive stuff I committed to memory early in life.

Anyway, the point is that along the line, I became attuned to words, their deep meanings, the ways in which we can weave ‘em together to produce beautiful art, the effects and related stuff.

At this point, I think I need to stress that I’m not some guru or avatar that can sway multitudes of people with words as the preceding paragraph may have led you to believe. I’m just saying I’m sensitive to words, and that was why the issue of our degeneration got to me. Dad didn’t need to wield a whip or make me kneel on pebbles. A single word ‘sent me to Coventry.

I’m not sure I need to aggressively convince you that many people exist that telling them they’ve degenerated would hardly stir anything in them. You probably have to tell them off repeatedly or deprive them of some grand joy they’ve been used to enjoying, or discipline them sternly. It just goes to show the differences that exist between one individual and another.

And so we find in the more important aspects of life that the approach to people, to things, to events are by no means defined by some stringent rules. Every person has something he is irked or joyed or stimulated by, and the key to breaking grounds quick is discovering early and swiftly (as much as we can) what works for who, what works for what, and what works when.

The fact that we’re here, the fact that you’re here, on this particular line summarizes the point I’m trying to make. Afterall, you’ll probably have made with just two sentences the same point I’ve been trying to make and moved on. But you’re not me, are you?

Right. The shoe that fits John pinches Joe.

Have a smashing week ahead!

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Scoreboard Watching

Years ago, about ten of us (amongst about 200 SS2 students) were called up for a mini competition to decide the five who would be representing the school in science fairs, more importantly to select the two to represent the school in an impending competition. I was fresh from dazzling in my first year in senior secondary school as I had shown my immense grasp of basic mathematics. I had also committed to memory, over 100 elements of the periodic table in order of their atomic masses (it seemed to be a big deal back then) and I had caught up quite well in Physics and Further Mathematics after a slow start that had me scoring just 4/20 in the first tests of each of the subjects.

Okay, enough of the preamble. You get the drift; I was a mini superstar, as you probably were too.

So… at the round table in the conference room, questions were thrown at us, the sciences first, then Mathematics last. My colleagues racked up the points, I bungled most of mine embarrassingly, stoichometric questions most especially dealing me a huge blow.

I stared on, waiting for the nightmare to end, side-eyeing my counterparts, Victor in particular as the answers drifted like honey from his anointed lips. Infact, I saw the honey (sideeye), I smelled the refreshing air its fragrance gave off as time trickled slowly. I couldn’t wait to girraradia (get-out-of-there). Then the adjudicator announced that it was time for the last section, Mathematics. My face brightened up. Needless to say, I got all my answers correctly, as well as multiple bonus answers to questions some of them could not answer. Then the last round involved questions from all the subjects again (to ensure the selected ones are well rounded since I had caught up by the time in terms of overall scores I suppose). I did pretty well this time around, so I was chosen as Victor’s ‘running mate’. The joy in my heart was unquantifiable.

What gave me a boost was my excellence in what I was very good at; Mathematics. I couldn’t even see the scoreboard, so there was no way I could see exactly how badly I was doing. All I knew was I had to do better, and better I did as I kept grinding till the results came.

Imagine a basketball player, eyes fixed on the scoreboard at all times. How well will he be able to ‘watch his man’ or make a dunk or pass or whatever? How can he successfully multitask, monitoring the changes in scores as well as the movements around the court. I’d reckon it’ll be a needle eye and camel stuff.

The point is most of us have mastered the art of scoreboard watching. We focus on how the next fellow is getting ahead or how much we’re lagging behind such that the work necessary to do, the art necessary for us to create to even stand a chance of our scores on the scoreboard increasing are left unattended.

Do much less of scoreboard watching and more of grinding (working) to ensure your output in the things you’re good at. Keep going. Rack up the points. Sharpen your skills, takes time and effort, but what else would you rather do?

Have a solid week.

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How Was I Supposed To Imagine Otherwise?

I’ve seen “The Book Of Eli” as well as “A Beautiful Mind” more than a couple of times. They’re just two out of my very long list of most watched movies. There’s something about ’em both however, and it’s the fact that the first time I saw each of them, I didn’t know anything was wrong with the lead actors until something was actually was wrong with them. They seemed like perfectly normal people doing great things until events unfolded.

How was I supposed to imagine (on my own) that someone so good with the sword and so accurate with the gun was very blind? (Denzel in ‘The Book Of Eli.’)

How was I supposed to doubt the sanity and lucidity of a true mathematical master whose ability could unquestionably make him an easy recruit as a spy? (Nash in ‘A Beautiful Mind’)

And this ‘how was I supposed to imagine…‘ Is the real challenge we face. Undiluted imagination is lost when all we see is what is obvious, when all we choose to see and believe is what is ideally stereotypical. We have mastered the environment and the working of stuff such that our minds hardly process aberrations as opportunities to create.

Innovation and true thoughtfulness cannot grow when the surface implication is all there is that exists to us.

One needs be deliberate in honing one’s observational sense. One needs to start seeing and thinking beyond the mundane, only then can one begin to punch above one’s weight and get rid of the bore of quotidian routine.

Be more alert, be more observant, be more conscious of people and things; their more extraordinary implications.

Have a fabulous weekend ahead.

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Don’t Pay In Full Before The Job Is Done

Where I come from, when you pay for services in full before the service being rendered is fully completed or even commenced, there’s the risk of not getting your job done in the end. Sometimes, you almost have to resort to tongue lashing the fellow(s) you’ve paid to do the job(s).

This thought extends to us as persons; we mostly get our best work done when there’s something to look forward to as reward for our undertakings.

Well, the bottom line is that there’s a very good reason gratification is delayed for endeavors we indulge in. If we had all the incentives in full even before we start any task, the drive to keep going might be lost.

Every step of the way, every activity of the day, one needs to have something ahead one’s working for, some prize to keep the motivating juices flowing.

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Why are you explaining?

While in the university, I had a friend who had a way of making you feel foolish when you did some things.

Basically, his method of doing that was quite simple. Say he saw you fraternizing with a girl or perhaps having heated words with some person or you made a bold assertion about something, he gave you “that look.”

“That look” was such that you’d feel an urge to explain to try to make him ‘see reason.” The only problem was that during your elaboration, he’ll cut you off, raise his voice above yours, and in broken-english he’ll ask “why you come dey explain?”

His style was such that even when you were certain you were making a good point, the desire to explain further became practically nonexistent.

My friend believed that mostly, elaborate explanations for justification were a waste of everyone’s time. He also believed that one that explains too often (in long sentences) had too much of a desire to justify his every thought or word or action before everybody.

Bothering too much about providing everyone with strong explanations for your actions and tendencies is counterproductive. Of course you owe some people in your life acceptable explanations sometimes, however, be careful not to be sucked into a life of proving yourself with so many words just so everyone is satisfied with you. It’s never going to happen anyway.

Many times, the simplest explanations are the best, the shortest answers the most advisable.

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